Congress And Habitat for Humanity Support for Northern Ireland's Peace Initiative
Belfast, Northern Ireland - April 2, 1999 - Congressional representatives and leaders of the home building industry dedicated "The Houses That Congress Built / Belfast," in Belfast, Northern Ireland this morning. The two Habitat for Humanity homes were constructed as an extension of the 1998 "The Houses That Congress Built" program in which 377 members of Congress joined with Habitat for Humanity and 22 National Partners in Homeownership to build houses for low-income families across America.
The Belfast Habitat for Humanity houses were built to advance reconciliation and understanding between Northern Ireland's Catholic and Protestant communities. The Good Friday dedication of the houses coincides with the first anniversary of the signing of the historic Irish Peace Accord.
Congressional participants in the dedication included Rep. Bruce Vento (D-Minn.), along with senior staff members from the offices of Jim Walsh (R-NY), and Rep. Rick Lazio (R-NY).
Major sponsors of "The Houses That Congress Built" and the "The Houses That Congress Built/Belfast" included the National Association of Home Builders, Freddie Mac, the National Association of Realtors, and Fannie Mae. NAHB President Charlie Ruma and Senior Vice President Jerry Howard also participated in this morning's dedication.
Belfast construction began in August of 1998 when a bi-partisan Congressional delegation led by former Speaker Newt Gingrinch poured the foundations.
"'The Houses That Congress Built' was a remarkable success," said Tom Jones, managing director of Habitat for Humanity International's Washington Office. "This united, bipartisan undertaking between Congress, the private sector and Belfast's citizens is another example of Habitat for Humanity's ability to bring seemingly disparate groups together. When we use the hammer as a tool to help others, differences among participants are forgotten."
Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian organization dedicated to eliminating poverty housing worldwide. Habitat brings together people with resources and people in need to build simple, decent, affordable houses. The homes are sold to those in need at no profit, through no-interest loans. Founded in 1976 by Millard Fuller along with his wife Linda, Habitat for Humanity has built more than 70,000 houses, providing shelter for more than 350,000 people worldwide. With affiliates in every state of the United States and in 63 other countries around the world, Habitat for Humanity expects to build its 100,000th home in September, 2000.